Utica ‘Art in Windows’

The Downtown ‘Utica Development Association‘, short DUDA, and Rod Wilson from ‘Gocal‘, a community online platform that concentrates on the promotion and support of local businesses and events, paired up to launch the ‘Art in Windows’ project in downtown Utica, NY.

The project is inspired by the ‘Art in Storefront‘ exhibition that first took place in San Francisco at Central Market in May 2011. Similar to its predecessor, Utica’s ‘Art in Windows’ will offer vacant storefronts to local artists to showcase their talents.

Here is an extract of the official DUDA press alert:

Empty downtown windows will soon become miniature art galleries through the ‘Art in Windows’ program sponsored by DUDA. ‘Art in Windows’ seeks to match local artists with vacant downtown storefront windows where they can display their works.

“Instead of looking at these windows as empty, we see them as full of possibilities,” says Regina Bonacci, president of DUDA. “What some consider an eyesore, we think will be a Main Street art show where works of art are shared with the community.”

Click here to watch a video about the event.

As far as I know, the show will kick off in the beginning of September and will run on a rotary system, three months at a time. All artistic disciplines are welcome.

Also, the name ‘Art in Windows’ seems to be a temporary title that is open for discussion. So, if you should have another idea, please get in touch.
My proposal would be ‘UticArt‘. I think it creates a good balance in between the city, the artistic concept and the diversity of the media on show.

For artists of the area who are interested in taking part and/or have an idea for a future name, please send your proposal to DOWNTOWNUTICANY@GMAIL.COM by July 31st.

I have my proposal ready and I can’t wait for the event to start!
Also, I find it inspiring to see that there are so many people in this city not just talking about making a change but really MAKING A CHANGE.
One step at a time… You go Utica!

 

Thank you for reading.
Please have a look at my websites www.lisa-juen.com and www.proonk.com.
Feel free to follow me on Twitter @LisaJuenProonK and like the FB ProonK page.

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‘Nāmanja’ & ‘Solipsistic’

Recently, I wrote about a piece I made for my friend Anja’s birthday. (Read about the beginnings here: Wave Structures & Loudlives.)

At that time, her birthday was yet to come so, I could not post any pics. Now, I am proud to introduce the finished piece called ‘Nāmanja’. The title derives from the Hawaiian sea goddess Nāmaka and my friend’s first name. Since she is a devoted surfer who loves the Hawaiian islands, I thought it would be a nice touch to go with the sea goddess.

The enameled blue and white piece in the center is inspired by a wave photograph that was taken by Hawaii artist Clark Little. The flower and the blue stones are my way of expressing the feelings I have about Anja: Depth, pain, pride and blue are the first words that pop into my mind when I think of her. Also, vulnerability and strength.

Shortly after the completion of ‘Nāmanja’, another very close friend, Rachel Marsden, had her birthday coming up. Rachel and I met in Shanghai through work. Rachel, and also Anja, are two people who are for me what Rachel usually refers to as ‘corner-stone-friends’.

The piece for Rachel is a very personal one. It started off with Rachel’s favourite word ‘Solipsistic’, a word that has a very special meaning for her and that comes with a nice little story that she sometimes tells people. Rachel is a person who is lost in the world of words. She is obsessed with letters and alphabets, typewriters and books. She is a mega-blogger and a workaholic. Wherever she goes, she takes her camera to take millions of pictures of people, art and food. Sometimes she complains though that not enough people take pictures of her. So, I decided to incorporate her image in the piece. The center showing Rachel’s portrait is made of enamel. Other materials are stainless steel, cubic zirkonia and glass.

Front of the brooch.

Back of the brooch.

The designing and making of those two pieces was pretty straight forward for me. I usually spend a lot of time overthinking every little detail of all of my pieces and I tend to overcomplicate them at times. I quite enjoy the process of designing them but I have to admit that I found that working more from the belly (and not just the brain) can be quite rewarding and satisfying too. I think making a series of smaller, faster ‘belly’-pieces will be something that I will have to experiment with, once I have my new studio up and running. Looking forward to it. I hope you too!

Please have a look at my websites www.lisa-juen.com and www.proonk.com to see more jewellery and join my Twitter @LisaJuenProonK and the ProonK FB page. Thank you.

Märta Mattsson’s ‘Petrified Lives’ at Sienna Gallery

Märta Mattsson‘s solo exhibition ‘Petrified Lives’ is currently on show at Sienna Gallery in Lenox, MA. The show opened on June 29th and will run until July 22nd.

Last Saturday, the gallery invited the public to join the artist’s reception. Since Utica is only two and a half hours away by car, I thought it would be a great opportunity to see the show and meet Märta.

We, my partner Barry and my jeweller friend Patrick McMillan, arrived early in Lenox and after a very lazy afternoon spent at ‘Haven Café‘, we strolled over to the gallery. Sienna Gallery is a space made from two connecting rooms. The room on the left shows permanent work and pieces of selected artists. The room on the right is used as the space dedicated to the newest show on display.

Based on the bug and beetle influenced topic of Märta’s creations, the artist chose to present the pieces in a forest-like display. The room was filled with several branches and trees holding Märta’s creations, showing a variety of pieces ranging from 2010 until now.

For me, it was interesting to see Märta’s development over the years through the changing use of materials, but still turning around a similar interest. I got the chance to meet and talk to Märta, an opportunity that filled me with joy, since I have to admit that I am quite a fan of her work. She is a very lovely person and we had a rather long conversation about the nature of her work, inspirations and making of her pieces. We found that we are both ‘Hate-Bug-Lovers’, people who are deeply inspired and intrigued by bugs but intimidated and disgusted at the same time. Working with bugs can be a constant battle of admiration and disgust, regularly pushing boundaries and expectations.

Another very interesting aspect that comes with Märta’s pieces is people’s reaction and the perception of the objects, when realising that there are still ‘real’ bugs ‘living’ in the jewellery. Märta had just finished explaining to us that peoples’ reactions can be very strong and diverse, when another visitor of the gallery approached her and enquired about a specific piece, a spider being cut in half. When the woman learned that the ‘skin’ of the spider was still in the piece, she shrieked and did not dare to touch it anymore!

The whole scene was somewhat funny to look at but also showed that Märta’s jewellery is not just pretty, daily ready-to-wear-bling but jewellery that truly pushes limits. Personal limits for sure, since the wearer is constantly aware of the fact that they are adorning themselves with a real insect, as well as ecological limits. I would like to think that once people get over this EEEWWW-A-BUG-mentality and encounter the beauty of those insects, they would want to help and preserve those species as well. This also makes me think of Christopher Marley‘s work. I certainly hope there will be more artists embracing this kind of topic and trying to make a difference for both, people and nature.

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Utica Buildings I

Aside

It has been a while since I wrote last and this had mainly to do with me constantly running around, wrapping things up, packing, moving, flying to four countries in 20 days and curing a heavy tonsillitis I caught on a farm in Taiwan. Apart from my sore throat, all good things and very exciting but quite exhausting too and I have to admit that it is pretty nice to have some peace and quiet at the moment. Right now I am in Utica, NY, and I will stay here for the next 80+ days before returning to Germany.

The reason why I am in Utica is because of my partner. Utica is his hometown and whenever you ask him to describe the city in one sentence, he will say ‘Oh- it’s a little slice of heaven on earth!’. Honestly, I haven’t heard the angel’s singing yet but I have to say that the ‘Utica Halfmoons‘ are pretty heavenly and there are lots of other things that make this little city very interesting. Apart from the really awesome Adirondacks State Park, which is just a short car ride away for all of those times when I can’t stand the four walls anymore and need to see and breathe some Green, there are a lot of interesting historical sites in the city as well. Just to speak of a few, the Stanley Theatre, the Hotel Utica and of course the Gold Dome are popping into my mind.

Of course Utica has issues, but I guess quite a few smaller cities have had similar issues in the past, and there are signs now that show that it is on the track of getting back on its feet. For me, being an artist and being interested in what is going on in this sector, it is great to see that there are quite a lot of people here trying to make a change. I think there is an interesting, rising art community on the go and I hope I can eventually contribute to it. There are quite a few art projects in the making of which I have heard of in the few days I have been here and I am very excited to see them finalised and open for the public. (I will write about those another time.)

When it comes to jewellery, I think there are quite a few interesting projects and sites as well. First, there is Pratt MWP, which enables students to spend the first two years of their bachelor of fine arts degree program at the campus in Central New York before they complete their studies at Pratt’s main campus in Brooklyn. Then, there is the Munson Williams Proctor Arts Institute, which has quite an impressive permanent body of work on show (They have a Louise Bourgeois ‘Maman’ Spider on the wall… a piece that I instantly fell in love with!). They also show shorter, topic-specific exhibitions. At the moment, there is the ‘Shadow of the Sphinx – Ancient Egypt and its Influence’ on show. Last year, I came to see a show on wedding dresses from the last 100 years.

Also, there is Sculpture Space, an organisation that offers twenty residency places to national and international artists. I am not sure, if there has been a jeweller so far but since, in my opinion, jewellery is a form of (wearable) sculpture, it might be an option for jewellers as well…!? I certainly hope so… it would be really exciting to get the chance to work BIG!

Another very positive aspect I find about the city is that a lot of private people are trying to make a change as well. We have had the chance this week to go and see the ‘Preview of the New Offices and Loft Apartment‘ at Bonacci Architects’. Once one disregards that some of the buildings in the city are pretty run down and looks behind the facade and the possibilities that hide in there, one recognises the beauty that is hidden in the city. There are so many old brick buildings, some of them had an industrial purpose, some of them were meant for living quarters, that are just waiting for rediscovery! The Bonacci’s have taken on one of those industrial buildings (actually two to be exact, since the building is made from a building that was erected in 1840 and that was then joined in 1880 with the next door building from 1860) and they have turned it into a modern-old building, housing two companies on the ground floor and a fabulous loft on the first floor.

Here are some pics of the building before renovation.

The Bonacci Building after renovation.

There were several presentations and speeches on how this project was possible and the advantages of making an old home new.

The main speaker of the ‘Landmarks Society of Greater Utica‘ mentioned that she is a ‘Building Hugger’ and I have to say that I feel the same way. Strolling through the downtown area, passing all those beautiful buildings that have so many stories to tell, puts a smile on my face and I hope I can contribute in a similar project in the future.

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